No Division 4 for NCAA, yet

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With the future stability of the NCAA a hot topic in collegiate athletics, most notably in football, one member of the NCAA’s board of directors is not seeing any potential split by the power conferences that drive the sport. Not yet, at least. Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest and chairman of the NCAA’s board of directors, says the goal is still to have one top division in collegiate athletics.

“From what I’ve heard in the association, I think people would like to have one Division I, but in some ways, a structure that will make certain differentiations between small conferences and big conferences,” said Hatch, according to a report from USA Today. “I think people like having one division.”

Ideally, yes, that is the ultimate goal moving forward. Some powerful people in college football have begun to draw a line with the NCAA, challenging it to make some serious changes before the conferences join together to take it upon themselves. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby all figure to be smart enough to a new strategy if it does end up getting to that point. American commissioner Mike Aresco has said before if a split from the NCAA does come in to play that his conference would expect to be a part of the mix. The idea of Division 4 was a major talking point in each conference during the summer’s media days for football and has continued to crop up in recent weeks as basketball season is getting set for the upcoming season.

One of the major concerns the conferences have is in the NCAA’s inability to enforce their rules, with a lack of consistency from case to case around the country. The NCAA is aware how important it is to address enforcement changes.

“There will have to be some give and take as we go down the road, but the fact that all 351 (Division I) athletics directors are speaking out of the same hymnal, it’s the first time in my 20 years,” said Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke. “I think we recognize there are unique demands, pressures and resources (on the big schools), so there has to be some autonomy on some select issues, but there’s an awful lot of commonality.”

The idea of a Division 4, which would hypothetically include the top conferences in college football such as the SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12 splitting from the existing NCAA model to form their own governing body and allow for a new vision and experience. While the frustrations from conference to conference tend to stem on how the NCAA is managed and how rules are enforced, money is also a big topic around college football.

When money talks, conferences could walk.

Heat ratcheted up on Butch Jones as Tennessee barely slips past winless UMass

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Aside from being on the right side of the won-loss ledger, this is absolutely not what Butch Jones or the Tennessee Volunteers needed.

The come-from-ahead last-second loss to Florida in Week 4 set a sizable chunk of Vols Nation to grumbling about the current state of the football program in general and Jones’head-coaching tenure specifically. With winless UMass coming to Neyland Stadium in Week 4, it was viewed as an opportunity for UT to reset and get back on track for games against No. 11 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama the next three weeks.

The good news? They won their third game of the year against the one loss, claiming a 17-13 victory. The bad? The looked rough, ragged and utterly inept, especially on offense, in doing so.

For the game, the Vols totaled 297 yards of offense 62 plays.  In the second half, they ran 31 plays and put up just 64 yards — and 26 of those came on their last drive of the game that didn’t involve a kneel-down.  Their eight possessions went punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game.

So, how did the fans who showed up at Neyland Stadium express their frustration over the current state of the football program?  By morphing into empty seats, apparently.

Armed with a mediocre 30-21 record — and 14-19 mark in SEC play — Jones entered the 2017 season on the coaching hot seat. These last two weeks have done nothing to quiet such talk; in fact, it’s done nothing but ratchets up the calls for his coaching head on a platter.

Should Tennessee stumble against Georgia and Alabama in the coming weeks, all bets are off as to whether Jones will see a sixth season in Knoxville.

Florida State looked sluggish and sloppy in first half vs. N.C. State, as expected

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Florida State, as many probably expected, looked like a team that has not played a game in three weeks after one half of play in Tallahassee against N.C. State. The visiting Wolfpack took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and hold a 17-7 advantage on the Seminoles at halftime in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Ryan Finley completed a 71-yard touchdown to Jakobi Meyers, who performed some acrobatics across the goal line (which was flagged, although the score counted) for the 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

Florida State seemed to get in sync in the second quarter. After two series on the field resulting in a pair of three-and-outs and a total of one yard of offense, Blackman and the Noles put their first drive together to the tune of 12 plays and 75 yards. Blackman capped the drive with a pass to Auden Tate from the four-yard line, but it was this key 3rd and 8 play that suggested Blackman had gotten comfortable for the first time in the game. A dropback pass to Tate went for 24 yards, and the placement of the pass could not have been much better.

That momentum did not seem to last too long, however. Florida State fumbled the ball away in crazy fashion on their next offensive series and later missed a field goal from the NC State 13-yard line. Blackman had a nice spin move to get away from a tackler, but he lost control of the football toward the end of his run, leading to a massive shift in momentum in bizarre fashion.

The play was reviewed to determine if Blackman’s knee had hit the ground prior to the fumble. After the review, the call on the field was upheld, and N.C. state recovered the ball at their two-yard line.

N.C. State’s first two offensive possessions were good for a combined 22 plays and over 120 yards and 10 points.

Blown call by SEC official screws Texas A&M out of a touchdown in first half vs. Arkansas

ESPN
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Arkansas is leading Texas A&M by a score of 21-17 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas after one half of play, but the story of the half will be the blown call by a SEC side judge trailing a long run down the sideline. It was bad.

After Kellen Mond appeared to run the length of the field and stumble his way into the end zone for six, the official on the field ruled Mond had stepped out of bounds at the Arkansas 10-yard line.

He did not.

Because the play was blown dead, the ruling on the field could not be sent upstairs to the instant replay booth. Texas A&M would get no further down the field and had to settle for a field goal as a result.

The two teams exchanged touchdown drives in the first quarter, first with Austin Allen completing a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cornelius for the Razorbacks and then Mond completing a pass to a wide-open Christian Kirk for an 81-yard score.

Arkansas regained the lead in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns with Cole Kelley tossing one from two yards out and Chase Hayden running for a six-yard score. The Aggies did eventually get back in the end zone late in the first half with Trayveon Williams finding room up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown.

Report: No. 6 Oklahoma State expected to be down two starting O-linemen against No. 16 TCU

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This is certainly an interesting potential development.

According to Jake Trotter of ESPN.com, the right side of No. 6 Oklahoma State’s offensive line — guard Larry Williams and tackle Zachary Crabtree — is expected to be sidelined for the game against No. 16 TCU in Stillwater.  Both linemen sustained the injuries in the Week 3 win over Pittsburgh, Williams his ankle and Crabtree a toe.

Crabtree has started 32 straight games at right tackle for the Cowboys.  He was named second-team All-Big 12 following the 2016 season, while he was a preseason All-Big 12 selection heading into the 2017 season.

Williams began his collegiate playing career at East Carolina, coming to OSU from the junior college ranks after leaving the Pirates.

The Cowboys enter the conference opener for both schools with one of the most explosive offenses in the country, currently third in the country in total yards per game (607),  tied for fourth in points per game (54) and seventh in passing yards per game (407.3).  OSU enters today’s contest as an 11.5-point favorite according to the line set by Bovada.lv.